“Union in Separation” is a three-day international conference hosted by the Transcultural Studies Programme at the University of Heidelberg. The conference focuses on transcultural diasporic communities in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean with specific respect to their role in trade between perceived separate cultural areas.
The term “transculturality” tends to be used to designate the hybrid character of modern-day societies and to ultimately argue that separate cultural units (defined as the sum of elements that characterise the aggregate identity of a society) do not exist. However, regardless of whether it is possible to speak of separate ‘cultures’, the construct continues to persist in people’s mind. These mindsets, their creation and their impact on societies is what historians are now investigating.
The study of Mediterranean diasporas lends itself well to this endeavour, as it allows for an understanding of the construction and deconstruction of cultural differences as well as the potential integration into a host culture. In order to best analyse these processes, we suggest exploring commercial exchange and its legal framework as two interrelated phenomena.
Medieval Mediterranean trading diasporas, such as Venetian merchants residing in Mamluk Alexandria, operated both within and outside of formal legal structures. However, their status as religious minorities often posed strong challenges to their business. For instance, far-reaching privileges granted by the Sultan to Christian merchants coexisted with, and were frequently challenged by, orthodox Islamic law and/or local legal practice.
Thus, a primary interest of historical transcultural research is to gather evidence on informal mechanisms that facilitated trade-given cultural hurdles. This will shed light on the form and scope of cultural exchange.
The conference will bring together academics from a wide variety of fields including medieval studies, history (including economic, legal, art history), and cultural studies.
Legal Pluralism and Diasporic Communities in Historical Perspective (Teresa Sartore)
Diasporic Communities in Rhodes 1350-1450 (Teresa Sartore)
Diasporic Groups in Mamluk Egypt 1300-1450 (Anna Katharina Angermann)
Diasporas and Imperial Rule in the 13th C. Aegean (Stefan Burkhardt)
Diasporic Networks and Institutions in Medieval Trade 1200-1500 (Lars Börner, Franz Julius Morche)
Early Modern Italy's Diasporas (Roberto Zaugg)
Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short CV to the respective panel organizer as well as to Teresa Sartore and Georg Christ. PhD students are encouraged to participate as well. Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you wish to propose an entire panel. There is a limited availability of travel grants for PhD students.
Deadline for Abstracts: 31.07.2010
University of Heidelberg